Jenny’s topical Nature tips for June 2021


June is nearly here but we are a month behind what we should be seeing.

The Fox cubs are late, the Butterfly have been an almost ‘no show’ and the trees are only now plumping up with fresh green leaves.

The birds have had a terrible time raising their young as insects have been few and far between. It has been a very strange time for nature. However I feel that with the weather changing to more of what we expect, we should have a very active nature month ahead. I’m sure the birds will have another cluster of babies and there will be many more insects for us to photograph. Covid rules may be eased, although that’s not a definite.

I had arranged to go on a Butterfly field trip but I cancelled it due to the fact it was too cold and wet and I was convinced that they would be a no show coupled with the fact that we still could not travel. So I have consoled myself with visiting wildlife parks and conservation parks.

It is a amazing experience, as you soon realise just how few animals are safe from extinction, I have met Bongos for the first time the reckoning is there are between 75-120 in the world left and suddenly you become so aware of the tasks that lie ahead to save our animal world. It really frightens me.

Because nature is so vulnerable, I feel the zoo’s and wildlife parks are so important to help with the breeding plan and fresh gene pools, however I appreciate some people will not feel the same. However if you do, please consider supporting the animal parks when you can as they really need our support.

On the subject of animal parks and zoo’s however, any photography taken where wire fencing is involved it is very hard. It is possible to overcome this if you try to blow out the wire by using a low f stop and being very accurate with the focus point position. It can be done. Most of these parks have unwired areas so that’s fun and gardens. So something for everyone.

If you are staying near home or staying in the UK, there are plenty of wild flower gardens everywhere to get those nature shots. In addition there is always such a lot of work achieved from our own gardens, macro work is always a place to make improvements. With the more you do it the more you become comfortable.

At the moment I am having a badger dig up the field. He is making such a lot of damage, and I have just seen why!!! It is only the last few nights that I have been able to put my Moth box out due to it being too cold. The last 2 mornings I have had a huge number of Cockshafer beetles inside and around the box. They are very big juicy beetles, great to photograph but the badger thinks they are great to eat. They are very large grubs underground for most of their life but are now hatching in their hundreds and flying at night. So badgers will be hunting these and the beetles are attracted to light.

This just shows that so many things happen in our gardens and with macro photography we get a fantastic opportunity to view it.

Of course we have many Bees around this time now too. I know there will be some members who wish to do more and for them there are many safe hide places now re-opening for many specialised birds and animals including Osprey, Little Owl, Herons at night and so much more. If you want to find something, Natures Lens holiday web site may help or just search on internet hides and the animal/bird you want to photograph. Of course check Covid safety.

I think when shooting nature, yes the photograph is important, but actually it is what you learn from taking the image, that really is amazing. Macro work especially brings this tiny world into ours and allows us to see things that truly are fantastic albeit animal or plant.

Practise makes perfect with a macro lens. A few hints:

  • You do need a small aperture when shooting macro, then you hope that the image you shoot will be sharp always get the focus point on the eye or main interest point. If it’s a flower then possibly no less than f11 but f18-f22 is optimal. However, with tight apertures such as these, the light is severely cut down so additional light in form of reflectors or flash must be added.
  • With my Moths and Insects I use a soft box light so this allows me to use a small f stop, f18 mainly.
  • The camera must be very still or on a tripod. If not possible, then use a 160th plus shutter speed to prevent camera shake. But remember that if the shutter speed is raised, it will cut down the amount of light.
  • Lastly, I do not stack or layer macro images but I do try to take different areas of the subject I am shooting, keeping the camera still but moving the focus point to cover the 4 areas of the insect/flower. If you then place the 4 images onto each other it is possible to get a single image of all-round sharpness. This is allowed in Nature. I have got the multiple images but not yet stacked. However I do find that I am pretty happy with f18-f20,     SS100th     ISO 1250. IN A SOFT BOX ENVIRONMENT it works nicely.
  • The above would work outside as well but all cameras are different and outside light changes, so always take a shot and look at the result and make changes accordingly.

I do hope this helps both members that are staying near home and those that wish to venture out and explore Good luck everyone.

This is my image taken through thick wire at Howletts in Kent last week. Pallas Cat lives in Mongolia and so rare in the wild. Quite rare to see one behind wire so I was thrilled to get this image. It was wide open aperture f2.8 to blow out the wire, focus point was on the eyes hence soft on legs but the face is strong.


Jenny Webster

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